Week 3: College Football Preview
Final: Maryland 32, Connecticut 21
Announced Attendance: 38,916
This was billed as coach Randy Edsall's homecoming, returning for the first time to the program he guided for more than a decade. That luster quickly faded, what there was of it, with attention turned more toward Maryland's biggest stumbling block on Saturday night: turnovers.
The Terps turned the ball over four times, missed two early fourth-down conversions, and had a number of dropped passes, but steadied the ship in the second half to register the double-digit victory over Connecticut, 32-21, at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn.
Maryland now moves to 3-0, the first time the program has started a season 3-0 since 2001.
Game recap: How does a team that gained 319 yards of total offense in the first half only lead by three at the break? Turnovers. Then how does it catch fire in the second half and pull away? Limiting turnovers and creating a few of their own.
Quarterback C.J. Brown accounted for 399 total yards (277 passing, 122 rushing) and two touchdowns to lead Maryland's offense to another high-powered performance.
Maryland amassed 501 yards of total offense on Saturday night, marking the third time in as many games that the Terps have reached the 500-yard plateau on offense.
Edsall's team overcame a slow start, though, finding their groove in the second half with help from their deep talent pool at the skill positions, Stefon Diggs, Brandon Ross, and Deon Long.
Ross carried the ball 18 times for 95 yards, but struggled early in the first half to get a handle on the ball.
Key moment: With 2:07 remaining the the third quarter and clinging to a 20-13 lead, Maryland needed a big play. Senior cornerback Dexter McDougle delivered.
He jumped the route on a pass from Connecticut quarterback Chandler Whitmer and wove his way all the way back for a touchdown.
After the extra point, that pushed Maryland's lead to 27-13 and the game was out of reach thereafter. But it wasn't all good news. Continue reading for more on McDougle.
Terps Offensive Player of the Game: Stefon Diggs (5 receptions, 110 yards, 1 TD)
Diggs had a career day in a win over Old Dominion in Week 2. How did he follow it up? With another all-conference worthy performance.
He caught five passes on Saturday night for 110 yards, including a crafty 12-yard touchdown catch in which he caught a screen at the line of scrimmage, took a nice block from Deon Long, and scampered into the end zone.
For as much versatility as the Maryland offense has with Long, Brandon Ross, and C.J. Brown, Diggs remains the center of the Terps' offensive universe.
It's not just that he has a reliable set of hands and the ability to get open. It's that any time he gets the ball in his hands, as he showed in the team's first two games and on Saturday night, that there is the possibility of a touchdown.
On his touchdown catch vs. UConn, the edge appeared to be filled with defenders but, thanks in part to that block from Long, was able to bide his time and sneak into the end zone.
Terps Defensive Player of the Game: Dexter McDougle (2 INT, 1 Def. TD)
Maryland needed a defensive anchor after it was announced that cornerback Jeremiah Johnson would miss 7-8 weeks with a broken toe.
McDougle delivered on Saturday night. He had two interceptions, including the big interception return for a touchdown that was the tipping point in the game.
But there is bad news, too.
Late in the 3rd quarter, McDougle slipped while going for a tackle and led with his shoulder, colliding awkwardly with a Connecticut receiver.
He stayed down on the field and was visibly in pain before being tended to by trainers. At one point, trainers felt around in his shoulder region before taking him back to the locker room.
Next Up: Maryland faces West Virginia on Sept. 21 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.